One of my favorite quotes is:

“Never use four words when three will do.”

 – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Good professional speakers and good marketers know that the most effective way to get people to remember what you said and to take action is to KEEP IT SIMPLE! Even if you have a very complex topic, it's easier to digest in smaller chunks of three.

RBG understood the power of three, and today I want to show you why less is more.

Our Brains

The brain and memory are very complex subjects that certainly would take more than three words to explain. But there are three types of memories where we store information for retrieval.

  1. Short Term Memories
  2. Long Term Memories
  3. Procedural Memories

Short Term Memories

If you are heading to the store, you can remember what you need in your head. If you wanted to remember what you bought last week or what was on that list, chances are you would not.

Long Term Memories

You can remember birthdays, people's names and faces, and maybe even your first pet, or the address of your childhood home. This is also how we store facts, figures, and more that we need or want to retrieve.

Procedural Memories

These are more motor-based memories like playing an instrument, riding a bike, and other basic functions like walking and standing. Writing, sports, turning on your computer or unlocking your cell phone all fall into this category.

A DASH of This

We all tend to store information in our brains less like a computer, and more like a sequence. If I asked you to remember the number 6305551212 you would have a hard time recalling it unless you have mad memory skills or use memory tricks. By adding commas, we induce pauses and segmentation. So if we add commas, we turn a 10-digit number into a series of sequences 6,305,551,212. That is remembered as 6 billion, 305 million, 551 thousand, and 212 (or six billion, three hundred and five million, five hundred and fifty-one thousand, two hundred and twelve.)

What if that was to be remembered as a phone number? That's even easier as 630-555-1212. The dashes act as pauses that help us remember the sequence. That's effectively how our brains store information more effectively for recall. Stored in a sequence of three properties.

I had a hard time remembering my new zip code until I broke it into three bytes. 27596 was much easier to remember when it was broken into 2 (Carolinas), 75 (3/4 of 100), and 96 (the opposite of my new address which is 69 – which is a memorable number for reasons we will not explore here in-depth.)

Famous Threes

There have been many famous threes in our lives. Think of the Three Musketeers, Three Little Pigs, Three Act Plays, Cheaper, Better, Faster (pick two), Three Strikes, and the Trinity (Father, Son, & Holy Ghost.)

Three is a prime number, but more importantly, it's easy for our minds to process, and remember. We often can remember three points, three steps, or three easy pieces. Even our existence as humans is built around threes…

  • Time: Past, Present, and Future
  • Consciousness: Mind, Body, Soul,’
  • Work: “Blood, Sweat, and Tears,
  • Play: “Sex, and Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll.”  (I know this is the fourth… but hey, “I'm A Musician!”)

Famous Threes in Business

Three Clicks to Music

Steve Jobs was a master of understanding what people wanted. He (and his team) designed the original iPod with the understanding that playing a song should only be three clicks away. If you pay attention today, You can open the music app, click a playlist, and start the music with three clicks. We have been so trained that way, that any app that takes more than three clicks feels cumbersome and one that takes less feels like we missed something or should have another option.

Three Website Clicks

I have run Google Analytics on hundreds of websites. That same three-click rule applies here. Whether you are on Amazon, or a small business website, people will generally give you three clicks and two minutes, then they are out of there. The goal is for someone to take some action by that point. You can measure downloads of eBooks, contact us requests, or some other action (fill in the blank) and this is the same for a website with hundreds or thousands of visitors.

Three Phases of Marketing

I often talk about the three phases of marketing. They are part of the Buyer's Journey. They also correlate to Know-Like-Trust.

Awareness is where people become aware that your company exists and that you offer a solution for their problems. All they need to KNOW is you are there and an option. Education is the part where you can start to build the LIKE. They need to see how you are different than the competition, and why you can be a strong option. Pre-Sales is where you have the goal for them to take action. You hopefully have built up enough TRUST that they will be willing to talk with your company and especially a salesperson in the B2b sales world.

Final Thoughts

This is one of the reasons I use the 10-10-10 principle when it comes to relationship building. It's fast, easy, and repeatable. In just 10 minutes a day, you can grow your relationships with people in your network.

  • 10 People – Choose 10 people per day to reach out to in your TRIBE (of 150 to 200 people). If you reach 10 people every workday you will touch 200 people per month!
  • 10 Minutes – It takes just 1 minute a day per person to send a quick email, a birthday or congrats wishes on social media, or either text or voice mail.
  • 10 Words – Keep it simple and just say “How are you doing lately?” & How can I help you?” That primes the pump for conversations. Even if only one person responds, acknowledge that. Maybe you can reply with an extended email, or set up a phone chat or Zoom meeting. It leads to deeper conversations and that is what relationship marketing is all about.

It's all about having deeper, relationship KNOW-LIKE-TRUST conversations with your current or past customers and prospects… “HEY? That's another three!”

I would love to hear your thoughts on your three best tips for using three. Do you use a memory trick to remember things? What were your favorite three points from this post? Do you have three bits of wisdom to share?

Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about the power of three with sales and marketing.

To learn more about this and other topics on B2b Sales & Marketing, visit our podcast website at The Bacon Podcast.